Episode 27

Balancing Personal and Professional Life on Social Media

Social media can be a useful tool for physicians to connect with peers, share clinical pearls, and grow awareness of their practice. But social media is also a wonderful tool for staying in touch with friends and family away from the office. But where should physicians draw the line? How can doctors balance their personal and professional lives on social media? That’s what we’ll explore on this episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast.

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Episode Transcript: Balancing Personal and Professional Life on Social Media

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Medical Marketing Podcast from Messenger – the show where we give physicians and practice marketing managers actionable tips and advice to help improve your marketing, grow revenue, and take patient experience to the next level.

I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to be looking at social media, and in particular, the blurred line between personal and professional social media brands as a doctor. It’s a topic that has many doctors confused: what is acceptable? What isn’t? What’s the best way to brand themselves and their practice?

If that’s you, this is the episode you want to listen to – so let’s jump in.

The Dilemma: How to Balance Personal and Professional Life on Social Media 

Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with friends and family members, for cultivating an online community that helps you stay in touch with those you care about.

Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter were originally designed with friends in mind – it’s why they exist.

But over the years, social media has evolved to serve useful professional purposes as well. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook (among others) can be powerful tools to stay in touch with peers, share clinical pearls, advance research, and grow awareness of your practice.

So, for many, there’s a dilemma: where should you draw the line between a personal and professional brand on social media?

One problem is that of relevance: if you have an account on which you share personal and professional posts, do friends and family members care about the clinical content? Or do they just skip past and ignore it?

And it goes both ways, too: are patients and peers turned off by the personal content you share? Might some things you share on social media be considered appropriate for friends and family, but inappropriate in a professional setting?

  • What about HIPAA compliance?
  • Is the line between personal and professional clear enough?
  • Are you safeguarding protected patient information?

Basically, it all boils down to one question:  could your social media actually be doing more harm than good?

This is a dilemma many doctors face. The desire to utilize social media and leverage the power it provides is strong, but if you want your social media to be an asset and not a liability, you have to go about it in the right way.

We’ll look at some strategies for drawing the line between personal and professional social media next.

How to Draw the Line Between Personal and Professional Social Media

When it comes to effectively separating personal and professional social media accounts, there are several solutions.

Most obviously, the easiest – and I believe, the best – way is to keep your accounts totally separate.

Many doctors choose this strategy, and while it takes a bit more work to post and keep up with content on each profile, the line is clearly drawn – and the benefits are clear, too.

If you want to completely separate your personal and professional profiles, there are a few things to keep in mind. Use different photos and usernames that clearly delineate between a personal and professional account. It’s remarkable how far a professional headshot in a white lab coat will go.

On your professional profile, consider adding “Dr.” before your name or your professional designation (MD, PhD, FACS) after your name. 

Be sure to use the bio space of each account to draw a distinction, too. For a professional account, it’s always a good idea to add a disclaimer that posts, tweets, and retweets do not constitute medical advice. 

And don’t be afraid to reference your professional account in your personal account, and vice versa – friends and family may be interested in your professional life, so don’t make them have to search too hard to find it. 

And finally, if your practice has a brand account and you want to highlight your social media profile, don’t link to your personal account – link to your professional account instead. That way, patients who want to learn more about their doctor will be able to engage with your professional work on social media, and you can keep your personal life separate. 

But not every doctor wants to go through the work of separating social media accounts. Some prefer to keep one account with a blend of personal and professional content. What should they do? That’s what we’ll explore next. 

One Account, Two Audiences: How to Keep Clear Personal and Professional Boundaries with One Social Media Account

Not every doctor wants to separate their personal and professional lives into two social media accounts…and that’s ok. But if you decide to blend content and audiences in one account, there are some important things to keep in mind. 

First, find the right mix of content. This will vary for everyone, but if most of your followers are friends and family, you probably don’t want to inundate them with professional content, medical jargon, or the latest clinical study – you’ll just drive them away and lose relevance.

The opposite is true: if your audience is primarily professional, posting personal content may not make as much sense. 

At best, personal social accounts can contribute to brand awareness among patients and can contribute to professional development…but at worst, posting too much work-related content can drive friends and family away. Even worse than this is having a predominantly professional audience, but posting too much personal content that may not be considered appropriate in a professional setting. 

Because of this, I always recommend that you keep accounts separate – but if you must mix them, air on the side of a personal account with the occasional medical content thrown in.

It’s one thing to post occasional professional content that friends and family skip past. It’s another thing entirely to alienate industry peers or damage your professional reputation with personal social media content that isn’t appropriate for the professional world.

That doesn’t mean you can post it elsewhere – but you should always think twice before you hit publish.

Remember, medicine is a world built on trust. If there’s any question on whether a piece of content would be appropriate for the professional world, the answer is probably no. 

So, separate your accounts if you can…but if not:

  • Know your audience
  • Air on the side of caution
  • Always think twice before you hit publish

Next Week…

Well, that’s all for this week’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – thanks for listening.

Next week, we’ll be looking at a core question in marketing a private practice: how do patients actually perceive your brand? 

We’ll be breaking down many of the misconceptions that physicians have about their practice brands and using real data to expose how patients really feel about their healthcare providers…so if you’ve ever wondered how patients feel about you or your practice, you won’t want to miss it.

Whether you’re new to the show or have been listening for a long time, check out our website at www.messenger.md. We’re always sharing helpful resources and know-how to help you improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level.

That’s all for today’s episode – I’m Crawford Ifland. See you next week.

Crawford Ifland, CEO at Messenger Healthcare Marketing

Crawford Ifland is the CEO of Messenger Healthcare Marketing. Messenger is a digital marketing agency specializing in custom healthcare website design, healthcare SEO, promotional videos, and more. Messenger gives the nation’s leading physicians and healthcare organizations the tools they need to grow their organizations.

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